Press Release
July 28, 2006


The governments contingency plan to evacuate thousands of Filipino overseas workers caught in the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict in Lebanon could be implemented smoothly and successfully if Philippine officials in that country would work as a team and not at cross purposes.

Senator Mar Roxas made this observation yesterday as problems involving the continued evacuation of relocated OFWs in Lebanon surfaced in the media.

He said that the Senate hearing on Monday into OWWAs finances could help the Senate assess the capability and requirements of the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Employment, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to successfully respond to a prolonged war in Lebanon.

Roxas said he will ask about the governments reintegration plan for returning OFWs on Monday. The senator from Capiz noted that most workers left their savings and belongings behind and must now start from scratch in rebuilding their lives.

It is governments role to make sure that these workers who have been driven out of work by a war not of their own making, would get the assistance and support that they deserve, he stressed.

He also urged embassy officials and personnel in Lebanon, including those sent to augment the evacuation team, to hew closely to the one-country team approach in the performance of their duties to safeguard the lives of Filipino overseas workers in that country. This means working together, coordinating their efforts and actions with each other, and bearing in mind that it is the countrys name and reputation, as well as its citizens, that they represent.

The one-country team approach is mandated as a policy under Republic Act 8042, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers Act of 1995. This policy means that in all diplomatic posts, the ambassador shall act as the head of the team and that all attaches from different offices and departments must follow his or her lead.

When clearly this policy cannot be implemented, particularly at the height of a crisis, then certain decisions must be made about how a more unified effort to address the crisis can be achieved. Let us not lose sight of our objective which is to save the lives of our OFWs, Senator Roxas added.

Roxas expressed sadness that recent statements of some Philippine diplomatic officials tended to show that the one-country team approach seemed to be ignored in dealing with the crisis. He said these statements have made into the media and are getting interpreted as mirroring discord among government officials and agencies responsible for the implementation of the contingency plan. He also cautioned the public not to jump into quick conclusions about where funds of the different departments and agencies involved in the evacuation of workers went.

I have not heard of any other government facing a similar controversy about government funds for evacuation purposes. The DFA must quickly resolve this issue because time is of the essence in getting our workers home safely, Roxas said.

News Latest News Feed